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Landlord Who Bilked Banks out of Millions of Dollars Sued for Harassment

An East Village landlord who was recently arrested for allegedly taking out millions of dollars in loans through fraudulent means is also facing a civil lawsuit filed by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. According to an article by Crains New York Business, it is alleged that the landlord illegally harassed tenants in the rent-regulated apartments he owned by attempting to have them evicted so he could charge higher rents.

Steven Croman, who owned 140 buildings in Manhattan, obtained $45 million in loans from New York Community Bank and Capital One Bank between 2012 and 2014 by exaggerating the amount of income his properties generated, according to Schneiderman. That allowed him to obtain favorable terms with the banks. In addition to these allegations, the Attorney General’s office claims that Croman racked up over $1 million in unpaid fines he amassed for construction and building code violations. The violations came when Croman instructed construction firms to perform work without a permit as a way to get the tenants to move out. The work also exposed the tenants to lead dust.

According to the lawsuit, Croman and his company 9300 Realty, would buy up apartment buildings with rent-regulated units, then buy out the tenants so he can increase the rents. Those who refused the buyouts were subject to lawsuits. He would also not deposit the tenants’ rent checks then claim they were behind in their rent. He hired a private investigator who — along with some of the 9300 Realty employees — allegedly used intimidation tactics on the tenants to get them to move out.

If you feel that your rights as a lawful tenant have been threatened or violated, contact Tanya Hobson-Williams, P.C. to learn about the protections available to you under New York State Law.

NYS Breaks Record in Medicaid Fraud Recoveries

Tanya Hobson-WilliamsThe New York Office of the Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG), reports that in 2013, it recovered what seems to be the highest ever recovery amount regarding Medicaid fraud in the history of the agency. Gov. Andrew Cuomo made the announcement early this February, reporting a sense of pride in New York and explaining the figures as an illustration of how New York State is “truly leading the nation in fighting fraud and protecting taxpayer dollars.” The exact figures calculated reached $1.7 billion over the past three years, and a record of $851 million in 2013 alone.

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Medicaid Reportedly Loses Over 1.5 Million Dollars from Russian Diplomat Scheme

Tanya Hobson-Williams

Dozens of current and former Russian Diplomats and their spouses have been accused of committing Medicaid fraud in a criminal complaint filed in December 2013. The diplomats, which include employees of Russia’s consulate, employees of its mission to the U.N., and trade representatives, were among 49 individuals charged in a complaint unsealed in federal court in Manhattan. Though no arrests were made and only 11 of the diplomats and their spouses remained in the United States, the complaint said Medicaid, a health care program for the poor and disabled, lost about $1.5 million in the scheme since 2004.

The complaint alleges that the defendants submitted fraudulent applications for medical benefits for pregnancies, child births and care for young children. Federal prosecutors said the diplomats qualified for Medicaid benefits by underreporting their income, often by tens of thousands of dollars, yet were enjoying countless luxury amenities while in the United States.

In court papers, FBI agent Jeremy Robertson described an 18-month investigation, saying investigators had discovered a pattern of falsified applications. He said 58 of the 63 births attributed to Russian diplomats and their spouses in New York City between 2004 and 2013 were funded through Medicaid, which is largely federally funded but also includes money from state and local governments.

Robertson wrote that the diplomats and their spouses generally underreported household income to an amount below the applicable Medicaid eligibility level, and some of them lied about the citizenship status of their children to obtain continuing health coverage for them.

Meanwhile, the diplomats and their spouses spent tens of thousands of dollars on vacations, expensive jewelry and designer clothing at luxury retail stores including Bloomingdale’s, Tiffany & Co., Jimmy Choo, Swarovski and others, the court papers said. The complaint said they also spent tens of thousands of dollars on electronic merchandise at Apple Inc., bought concert tickets, robotic cleaning devices and chartered helicopters.

Charges in the criminal complaint included conspiracy to commit health care fraud, conspiracy to steal government funds and make false statements relating to health care matters.

“Being a diplomat does not give you the right to commit health care fraud,” said George Venizelos, head of the FBI’s New York office, he added, “The defendants selfishly took advantage of a health care system designed to help the unfortunate and should be punished.”

Common penalties for Medicaid fraud include monetary fines, disqualification, garnishment of wages, and even criminal prosecutions. If you or a loved one have been charged with Medicaid fraud, the consequences you may face can be severe. As a result, you should immediately contact an experienced Medicaid attorney to receive the representation you deserve.